Students’ mental health issues impact school, community

By Journalism I students Emily Zhang, Ben R-C, Alexa Roberts, Louise Mitchell, and Sydney Moore

Depression and Anxiety have become a prevalent issue in high schools. Being a teenager and balancing home life, school, friends, and sports isn’t always easy, and depressing feelings or anxious moments become increasingly difficult for students.  

According to the Anxiety and Depression Association of America, also known as the ADAA, data shows that anxiety and depression disorders affect one in every eight children and adolescents across the United States. Moreover, 60 percent of those children and teens do not receive treatment. This data is concerning and can only make us wonder what high schools like UAHS are doing to ameliorate the situation.

Many students, such as freshman Noah Freud, don’t feel their mental health is supported at school. Freud says he doesn’t feel that he can go to the counselors at UAHS for help.

“I think it started in fourth or fifth grade, when I moved to Ohio,” said Freud. From a voluntary journalism survey posted on Schoology with 276 respondents, 3.4% of students indicated that were clinically diagnosed with both depression and anxiety, 13% of the respondents reported to be clinically diagnosed with anxiety alone, and 5.4% were clinically diagnosed with depression alone.

Report ADAA stat here. Freud said this number seems accurate, and for him, as a freshman, in highschool, his anxiety has worsened due to the amount of class work he receives.

 

Freud said that he used to go to informal therapy sessions. He admitted that it was hard for him to open up to the therapist; however, he suggested going to therapy for others who have anxiety or depression. For many people suffering from mental health disorders, therapy is not a solution to their problems; it does, however, set them on the right track to finding solutions that work for them.

Freud said that when his anxiety and depression was at its worst, he opened up to some of his closest friends. “They helped me a lot,” he said, “and this part of the quote explains how they helped me.”

ADAA reports that 80% of kids with diagnosed anxiety are not receiving treatment, while 60% of kids with diagnostic depression are also not getting treatment.

As a licensed psychologist for Syntero, a counseling center located in central Ohio, Deborah Culp said school’s across central Ohio are struggling to address the mental health issues students are experiencing,

“The [school is] trying, but it can be overwhelming,” she said. “You have to remember that school counselors are not licensed, counselors.”

Culp said anxiety has become more prevalent for teens. She cites the abundance of school work as a primary source for anxiety. Culp explained that the abundant pressure put on students is unhealthy.

The school systems have changed so much and the expectations have risen so high that students can’t catch their breath.

Another source of pressure is students’ parents, Culp said. “They put so much pressure on their kids without understanding what it’s like to be in high school today.”

Part of our community’s issues with mental health stem from the way American culture portrays them. In a survey posted on the UAHS Schoology main page, it was found that 53% of respondents had seen Netflix Original, “13 Reasons Why.” Almost 46% of students who watched 13 reasons why believed that at least part of the way the show portrays mental illness in a high school setting was correct.

When this show was released in March of 2017, it sparked a great debate for the way mental health experts claimed the show’s glorification of suicide posed great risk to youth viewers. In an interview with The Guardian, Mental Health Expert and Campaigner Sarah Hulyer explained the way the directors of the show incorrectly portrayed suicide and mental illness.

According to The Guardian, 13 Reasons Why features a “storyline that is about revenge suicide, demonizes counselors and includes none of the characters reaching out for help and receiving it”.

Freshman Noah Freud agreed that the series glorifies suicide. Students need to be aware that support for their mental health exists both at home and at school, and that they are never far from help.

 

Likely due to the taboo associated with the discussion of mental health issues, it is often assumed that students know how to find the help they need. After conducting a Schoology survey that garnered nearly 300 responses, it is clear that many students feel unprepared to address potential mental health crisis and concerns. Of these respondents, only 24% could answer that they knew support for their mental health exists at UAHS. Beyond that, only 38% felt they knew what to do if a friend were to experience a mental health crisis.

Freud said his anxiety has greatly worsened since coming to the high school. Because UAHS and its counseling department put so much effort into supporting its students, there is most definitely a disconnect if students do not feel supported by the counseling department.

If a student is having mental health issues, the best thing they can do is to seek the help of the counseling department. This is just a first step in most cases, but by making an appointment with your counselor, you can open the door to solutions.

At Upper Arlington High School, students are provided with counselors organized in groups by last name. It can be hard for counselors to detect students who may be depressed or have anxiety, so they can provide them with support and resources. In an interview with counselor Allen Banks, he shared with us that “in most cases, it is a friend that comes to us who is looking out for their friend and is worried.” Banks also shared with us that there is an organization the school is involved with called “SOS” or “Signs Of Suicide.” The school also works with Syntero; a mental health provider and advocacy group based out of Dublin. They work with Upper Arlington schools to educate students about mental health and provide for the needs of those students with mental health disorders.